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Wednesday, May 21, 2008 03:10 pm

Not sparing Rod

Poll shows that most Illinoisans support impeachment hearings

Untitled Document A new statewide poll reveals that 59 percent of Illinois registered voters want the Legislature to begin impeachment hearings against Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The survey of 600 registered voters, conducted May 7-10, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. The Glengariff Group poll found that Blagojevich’s disapproval rating was a whopping 65 percent, whereas just 26 percent approve. An Ipsos poll conducted in late March found that 54 percent disapproved of Blagojevich but Ipsos also asked whether respondents had “mixed feelings,” and Glengariff just asked straight up whether they approved or disapproved. Glengariff’s survey found that 26 percent approve of Blagojevich’s job performance (Ipsos, 13 percent), while 48.3 percent strongly disapproved.
The governor’s job-approval ratings, the coverage of the Tony Rezko trial, the frustrated attempt to put recall on the ballot, the disastrous debate over yet another pay increase for legislators and the governor, and the horrendous “right track-wrong track” numbers (14 percent said the state was on the right track but 71 percent said it was on the wrong one) all likely contributed to the impeachment findings. Just 29.6 percent of registered voters opposed the idea of impeachment hearings; 38 percent strongly supported hearings, and 20.5 percent “somewhat supported” the idea. Democratic voters said they supported the idea, 49.4 percent to 41.5 percent. Indepen-dents overwhelmingly liked the proposal, backing it 63-24. And it’s probably no surprise that Republicans loved it: A whopping 73.5 percent of GOP voters said it was a good idea, compared with just 16 percent who said it wasn’t. Illinoisans are not yet completely convinced that Blagojevich should be removed from office, but they do seem to be heading in that direction. Forty-five percent said they supported “impeachment of Gov. Rod Blagojevich forcing him to leave office;” 35 percent said they were opposed and 18 percent said they didn’t know. House Republican Leader Tom Cross has gone out of his way to downplay impeachment talk in the past few weeks, even though 57 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of independents want the governor removed. Those numbers ought to give Cross serious pause. “That will only grow,” cracked one very high-level House Democrat last week when told of the 44.7 percent result favoring the governor’s removal. Unlike the recall proposal, hardly anybody is talking about impeachment in the media.  If Rezko is convicted and the impeachment talk heats up, that high-level Democrat is probably right about growing public support for removing the governor from office.
The governor’s support had risen among African-American voters since the last time Glengariff was in the field, but there was a very high margin of error in that relatively small polling subgroup, so it may just have been a statistical anomaly. The governor, like President George W. Bush, has played to his base over and over again, but, as with Bush, that push has not stemmed the tide in other demographics. Blagojevich’s job approval among white voters is now just 18.8 percent, according to Glengariff, down from 29 percent in November. Meanwhile, another statewide poll had a little fun with Blagojevich’s reputation. Ask Illinois, which conducts automated polls, asked 2,301 registered voters this question last Wednesday: “If you were given the choice between former Gov. George Ryan and current Gov. Rod Blagojevich, which do you think would do a better job running our state?”
More than half, 52 percent, chose Ryan, the imprisoned former governor. Blagojevich scored 48 percent. You know things are bad when you’re losing a popularity contest to a federal inmate.

Rich Miller publishes Capitol Fax, a daily
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